$5.6 trillion spent on what the world has come to know as America’s “Global War on Terror”

“No one knows for certain how many Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion 15 years ago. Some credible estimates put the number at more than one million. You can read that sentence again. The invasion of Iraq is often spoken of in the United States as a ‘blunder,’ or even a ‘colossal mistake.’ It was a crime.” Sinan Antoon in the NYT: Fifteen Years Ago, America Destroyed My Country.  Matt Ufford in the NYT Mag: 15 Years Ago, I Helped Start a War That Hasn’t Ended.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and Iraq are some of the countries most at risk of climate change.  According to a new report from the World Bank, these two issues could become (more) closely connected in the coming years. “Climate change will transform more than 143 million people into climate migrants escaping crop failure, water scarcity, and sea-level rise.”

By John Queally, 10 March 2018 on Common Dreams

When discussing the costs of other things that may be characterized as unaffordable today, it is important to keep in mind the “$700 billion annual military budget or the trillions the US has spent on war since 9/11.”  That totals since 2001 includes an estimated $5.6 trillion spent on what the world has come to know as America’s “Global War on Terror”.

The financial outlays made by the Pentagon since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the illegal war and occupation of Iraq that began in 2003, and the drone wars and smaller conflicts in dozens of countries now that the U.S. considers nearly the entire planet a battlefield in its ‘global war on terror’ (GWOT).

In an email to Common Dreams on Saturday, she argued the “real cost” of Trump’s parade is how it “ramps up the glorification of militarism, priming the US public for continuing the endless wars we are already in as well as potential new wars. Perhaps Iran? Progressives must oppose the parade, wrapped up as a tribute to veterans, since we know that the best way to show support for veterans is to stop war. And we have to counter it with a massive peace parade.”

Detailed in the latest comprehensive estimate put out by ‘Costs of War’—a project of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University—the U.S. (from 2001 through 2018) has spent a total of $5.6 trillion on these various overseas misadventures.

These totals speak nothing about the human costs of war—both to the civilian victims of U.S. armed forces around the globe and the lives of U.S. soldiers lost or shattered by 17 years of conflict.


Notably, in addition to the $5.6 trillion, the analysis estimates that because large portions of the GWOT budget were paid for with borrowed funds, those wanting a more complete picture of the total costs of the wars—including payment for veterans’ medical and disability needs which will stretch out to the year 2056—should add another $7.9 trillion on top.

Just think of the parade a country could throw with that. Sadly, like the war-making it is meant to celebrate, it could be one that never ends.